Whenever she strolled down a sandy beach or marveled at the redwoods of a lush forest, LeTa Jussila would be reminded that Santa Cruz was the most beautiful place in the world. It seemed a shame to her that most people spent so much of their days inside houses and offices rather than taking advantage of the diverse landscapes of their surroundings. Inspired, she spearheaded the foundation of Optimal Health and Fitness—a multidimensional outdoor-fitness program.
Today, LeTa and her staff of trainers conduct energetic boot-camp classes at local beaches, forests, and mountain trails. They use the tools of their surroundings as exercise equipment, such as running up park stairs for a cardio workout. Encouraging well-rounded, healthy lifestyles, the instructors also conduct seminars on holistic topics such as stress management and meditation. Nutrition specialists, meanwhile, provide students with balanced meal plans and supervise detoxifying cleanses. The staff also offers various treatments popularized in the East, including traditional Chinese acupuncture treatments and rejuvenating qi gong stretching classes.
Author, massage therapist, former dancer, and world-reaching Pilates educator Lisa Graham oversees Agile Monkey Pilates Studio, aiming to provide the tools for students to fine-tune their physiques and better understand their bodies. In a spacious, light-filled studio annex, four senior instructors with years of teaching experience lead evening and morning group mat classes.
Yoga Center Santa Cruz offers yogis of all skill levels the chance to increase flexibility and reduce stress and body ailments while developing their mind-body balance through various styles of yoga, including BKS Iyengar, vinyasa flow, and restorative yoga. Limber up during the upcoming six-week Introduction to Yoga (January 20–February 24) or Introduction to Flow Yoga (January 6–February 10) series, great for beginner body-benders who need to learn the basic poses, concepts, and anatomy of yoga. For more seasoned students, the Yoga Center offers a variety of drop-in classes, which take place several times a day and usually last between 60 and 90 minutes. Like the five realms of Chutes and Ladders mastery, classes range from the beginner level one to the advanced level five and are taught by certified, trained instructors. Private lessons, which can be scheduled with Tamara or Karen, are also available for dedicated practitioners looking to master the fundamentals of yoga while avoiding the penetrating stares of a nosy group of yoga mats.
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Jump on a treadmill, tune out, go home. Repeat. This is exactly the type of workout rut the founders of Crossfit West were hoping to break free of when they opened this results-focused gym. Here, intensity is the key to a successful workout, and the encouraging trainers motivate guests to push past their personal limits each day, whether that means lifting five pounds or carrying five tired classmates to the water fountain. Using a workout system originally developed for military training drills, the trainers lead ever-changing routines that are scalable to any fitness level and can include tasks such as burpees, push-ups, squats, and sled pulls. Best of all, the gym offers more than 25 classes per week so members can drop by for a plateau-blasting workout whenever their schedule allows.